Originally published on this site here, in Italian.
Produced by: Willowbrook Regent Films; Soapbox Films
Directed by: Roxanne Benjamin; David Bruckner; Patrick Horvath; Radio Silence (alias Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett e Chad Villella)
Written by: Roxanne Benjamin; Matt Bettinelli-Olpin; David Bruckner; Susan Burke; Dallas Hallam; Patrick Horvath
Cinematography: Tarin Anderson; Tyler Gillett; Alexandre Naufel; Andrew Shulkind
Edited by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin; David Bruckner; Jason Eisener; Tyler Gillett; Patrick Horvath
Special effects and Make-up by: Dylan Chase; Jason Collins; Chris Diaz; Dave Jacobson; Nick Lively; Justin Martinez; Chelsea Orduno; Josh Russell; Sierra Russell; Galaxy San Juan
Music by: The Gifted
Running time: approximately 82 minutes
Receipt: 23.665 dollars in the USA, 11.610 dollars in Russia, for a total of 35.275 dollars (source: Box Office Mojo)
WARNING – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
It always happens, when you do a bit of research: you start with a film, an impression, an author and take a look around. From there, you can sail a little by sight and a little by means of your sources, until you finally reach a destination of some kind and draw a line, then leave again.
Well, it’s through these dynamics that I’ve come to Southbound, a 2015 horror anthology signed, among others, by Roxanne Benjamin, in her turn among the future directors of XX.
Another anthology, then. And precisely of four episodes, linked together by the large, wide, always straight USA highways: the sun, the desert, the asphalt, some gas stations where the town dwellers go to drain beer mugs in silence.
Four (or five, if you wish) episodes linked together. Let’s see them in detail in their plot.
The Way Out and The Way In (directed by the Radio Silence trio) together constitute the first and last episode of this film. They are essentially a single, fairly bloody episode focused on a group of goons immersed in a vicious circle of revenge and perdition. In addition to an always appropriate reasoning on the fundamental error of revenge1, there are some really well-made CGI monsters, certainly debtors of Tim Burton and of a certain gothic-dark-religious iconography.
Siren (directed by Roxanne Benjamin) sees a trio of girlfriends in the desert. The Volkswagen van they are traveling on has a little hitch and the girls come into contact with a disturbing little family, which seems to have just come out of a satire of the Bible Belt. Old remorses, pagan rituals, some Tobe Hooper waddings.
The third episode, The Accident (directed by David Bruckner), is the most visibly linked to the others, being a real sequel to the previous one. In the night, a man very diligently drives with his eyes fixed on the cell phone, and that’s how he hits poor Sadie, the main character of the previous episode. Staying in contact with the 911 call center, he will reach a hospital and there, guided by the voice of a surgeon, he will try to save the girl’s life. Strong moments, zombie-movie atmospheres, a lot of blood, the Individual at his limit.
Then comes Jailbreak, directed by Patrick Horvath. An individual breaks into an autogrill: it’s old Danny, who has come from afar in search of his sister Jesse, held captive in the town. Carpenterian in the materiality of its supernatural, Jailbreak is perhaps the most interesting episode: in a few minutes, a western Inferno between Carpenter and a few splashes of Lynch2, a fantastic femme fatale, an old man deluded but sardonic like a modern Cable Hogue, a considered and never gratuitous violence, good effects. Really interesting.
Finally, as mentioned above, the circle closes with The Way In.
So, technically, Southbound is a definitely good movie: budget unknown, but apparently used well. Of course, it’s not a masterpiece, but there are some excellences.
The special effects and make-up are very good: in particular, the “souls” in computer graphics in The Way Out and The Way In stand out. These creatures, a sort of flying skeletons, certainly linked (as mentioned above) to a certain fantasy/horror cinema and gothic-religious sensibility for avenging angels and the like, work very well with the setting, which can remind a bit the first moments of the 2010 Legion.
And precisely the setting is another strong point. The idea of the highway and the desert wasn’t certainly invented by Southbound3, but here, thanks to the episodic structure, it is explored in various facets: there is the isolated house in the countryside, the motel where the stories cross, the bar on the highway, the desert itself, the paranormal world visible only to initiates.
So nothing to say about the setting: not always very original, but always equal to the situation.
Another strong point are some characters. In order of appearance, we see the family of Siren, and in the most traditional of occasions, i.e. at the table, eminent place of presentation of the best characters, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to House Of 1000 Corpses, maybe even passing by The Nutting Professor. And then Danny, the bartender Al, the patrons of his bar, the fatal Jesse of Jaibreak.
Characters endowed of humor, a certain charm, some depth; characters, in short, that have something to say, more than mere, predictable masks.
Therefore, in terms of writing, we are on a more than good level, considering that the episodes are very well connected to each other4.
Cinematography is never out of place: the red lights of the Jailbreak Inferno and Siren’s dining room, with its dim colors and its warm lights, stand out.
About references, the movie pays tribute to the Carnival of Souls cult of 19625.
In short, Southbound is a good horror movie. Those who love the New Hollywood horror and those who love the most modern horror, those who are not looking for excessive commitment but only want to see a little blood, those who find it on television at late night and those who want to enjoy it Friday night with a pizza will like it .
Box Office Mojo – https://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=southbound.htm (ult. visita 01/10/2018)
Box Office Mojo – https://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=southbound.htm (ult. visita 01/10/2018)
English Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival_of_Souls (ult. visita 05/11/2018)
English Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Southbound_poster.jpg (ult. visita 01/10/2018)
English Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southbound_(2015_film) (ult. visita 04/10/2018)
- Which here almost assume the features of the feud.
- See in particular the effect by which the wall opens to let Danny and the bartender enter the tattooist’s room, as well as the customers in the room itself, standing still despite the chaos around them, without being clear if they are dead or alive, as in certain moments of Blue Velvet.
- Two titles among all: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes.
- In particular, on Wikipedia several elements are collected to show that the entire film would have a circular structure, destined to repeat itself or, maybe, to be modified by the characters.
Personally, I don’t know how much these elements can imply a circular structure, nor, possibly, how much this structure has been made to emerge properly in the film. In any case, we can imagine that they are simply internal references to two episodes which, in effect, are more like a single episode divided into two, the first of which contains the remorse of one of the protagonists and therefore also a series of references to the act he previously committed.
Not even what the DJ says seems able to support the idea that the characters of the entire film are inside a loop, among other things liable to be modified: seen with a bit of detachment, on these occasions the radio DJ of Southbound is nothing more than a narrator who, from outside, just tells us what we are going to see in the film, through an expedient that is certainly not brand new but suitable for the theme of the motorway and the journey by car.
In this sense, the differences between the words of the DJ at the beginning and at the end (which in reality consist only of a continuation of the monologue) do not seem to be anything but a conclusion of the film with a note of black humor by the narrator.
- You can find it in free streaming on the irreducible Wikipedia. Watch it, but be careful: it can really scare you!